This interview is the second part of our long conversation with the British producer/songwriter. Read part one where he explains his process and his working relationship with both Danny Brown and Open Mike Eagle here.
Part 2 touches on White’s favorite songs from Atrocity Exhibition, his new album, the relationship between rappers and producers, working with Yasiin Bey, and more.
WL: Going into “Get Hi,” [with B-Real of Cypress Hill], I had certain expectations that were completely blown out of the water. I’ve never heard B-Real on anything like this before.
PW: That was another one of the pleasant surprises when he picked that beat. Every sound on that song is me, it’s just me humming except for the drums. The fact that B-Real was on the song was crazy. All those years of listening to Cypress [Hill] had me really excited about that.
WL: The beat on “Ain’t It Funny” sounds like a nightmare, man. Were there any samples on there?
PW: Yea, those horns are sampled. All of the beats come really quick; the initial foundation of them is done in 10-20 mins. The image of those horns was intense to me. Where other people will hear “dark,” I’ll hear “intense.” I’m open to the dark side because you can’t have one without the other.
WL: You ever play one of those arcade machines that was just a straightforward racing game where you’re riding a bike through the desert? That’s the vibe “Ain’t It Funny” gave me.
PW: It’s great to hear that because I always think of music as very visual. If a tune paints a picture in my head, then that’s a good thing. It’s kinda creating its own theme and its own world. I really wanna work in film as well, or find a way to link both of those worlds. I find myself getting into visuals more and more.
WL; Have you ever scored for film before?
PW: I’ve done some TV and my dad’s [John White] a director, so the few times I have have been for educational BBC films. I’ve also done some sound-scaping stuff for animation, so I’ve worked in pictures before. But I’d love to work on a full-scale thing. I’m getting bored with telling myself and not doing it. The only problem is that it’d cost a lot. I wanna have an album with a DVD. That’s my dream for one day.
WL: If you could work with any film director, dead or alive, who would you choose?
PW: I’d love to get in contact with David Lynch [film director]. That would be a dream. I really, really, really would.
WL: What was the first instrument you played?
PW: I think it was piano just before guitar. When I was eight or nine, I started out on the piano and then quickly went onto the guitar shortly after that. I was more on that singer-songwriter thing back then. I went from that to playing all different types of rave music. I used to write happy hardcore (laughs). Ambient music and trance with various people at college, so it’s really gone everywhere because I listened to everything. All music is the same thing; it sounds quite hippy, but I listen to a feeling of music and don’t really think about genres. Like, soul music is in every genre.
WL: And especially now. Everything is meshing with everything these days.
PW: I agree, it’s a fascinating time right now. Genres are getting broken down more and more and more. You’re hearing it in people asking musicians “what kind of music do you make?” and people saying “it’s a mix of that, mix of that, mix of that.” It’s great. I think I was reading a Duke Ellington interview from so long ago where he said that he hoped there wouldn’t be any genres in the future. Everything’s so cross-pollinated and you can make a Spotify playlist that has every genre in there.
WL: I was actually reading an article last night called “Albums Are Dying a Slow Death at the Hands of Prospering Playlists.” It talked about how the playlist has overtaken the cultural importance of the album. I like albums personally, but it’s also nice to have a personally curated playlist as well.
PW: I like listening to whole albums too, especially if you’re looking for a full vision. But I catch myself listening to more and more random tracks. Spotify gives you playlists; every week, Discover brings you new music. There’s good and bad things about that, but mainly good. Always embrace change, no matter what. Every generation has the “it was better in my day” or “we had it like this” or “we had it like that.” It’s really important to change sometimes.